White Women: your hip-hop inspired protest signs are questionable
March 22, 2018
By Ashley Nash* / WearYourVoice Mag, AFROPUNK contributor
Since the start of 2017, pink pussy hats have been at the center of conversations ranging from reproductive rights and sexual assault to wage gaps and inclusivity.
2018 marked the second year in a row that The Women’s March garnered large crowds of people marching and raising signs decorated in vulvas, fallopian tubes and hip-hop lyrics. While it may seem like the three don’t really go hand-in-hand, women in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Arizona and beyond beg to differ.
Cardi B herself reposted images of signs from the Los Angeles Women’s March that displayed the catchy chorus from her hit song “Bodak Yellow”. March participants also reworded Khia’s “My Neck, My Back” to highlight their own toughness as well as their disapproval of 45. And let’s not forget, the women’s anthem of 2011 by Beyoncé titled “Who Run The World” which also made it onto the posters of march attendees.
All of these lyrics are from artists who produce a genre of music and belong to a group of people who, to this day, remain marginalized. While their wealth may afford them certain luxuries, it’s their heritage and skin color that lead to the same discriminatory experiences of other Black and brown women throughout the world.
All of that to say that these women have paved the way through their strides and strifes, yet still represent backgrounds that until recently were not offered a seat at the table. According to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), Black women represent more than 22% of sexual assault survivors. Less than 25% of congress is female while women represent over 50% of the American population. For every dollar, that a white male earns a Black woman earns 67% of said dollar.
Sure, it’s a bit awful to quantify struggles, particularly on the basis of race, but these statistics represent just a few of the ways in which Black women are disproportionately disrespected. You may be thinking well that’s where feminism comes in and…you’re kinda right.
Women like Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Dolores Huerta, and Yuri Kochiyama each paved the way for all of us. And while the founders of The Women’s March Organization are successfully managing and passing the torch, it’s the 53% of Donald Trump-loving ‘pink hats’ that allow for Susan B. Anthony’s illustrative words to resurface and hold meaning.
Which brings me to the undeniable yet, still disappointing fact: a good number of the women who either created these posters, took photos of them and/or exalted them with claps and chants are the same women who contributed to the election of a man who spews hatred against all things non-White and “untraditional”.
This same hypocritical way of thinking is what has kept and continues to keep a number of Black women from joining forces with Women’s March stans. It’s what brews the backing of ‘pink hats’ even after being reminded that not all vaginas are pink. And the fruits of this exclusion, portrayed by White feminists, is Hip-Hop feminism.
Author Joan Morgan, in her book “When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down”, discusses the notion of being “brave enough to f*ck with the grays” and the importance of creating a space where Black women could develop their own definitions by 1. considering everything within the gray area and 2. as a result, promoting inclusivity.
Now that’s not to say that Hip-Hop does not have its own flaws of objectification or completely denying the talent of women rappers and producers. But, it is to say that this artistic realm of sound/culture was created due to exclusion and discrimination which has led to change and inspired sectors of advocacy.
Because of Hip-Hop, icons like Queen Latifah could promote U.N.I.T.Y. then turn around and play the role of a magazine publisher and editor in 1990’s New York. Because of Hip-Hop, icons like Mary J. Blige could capture the suffering of scorned women with her music and then use this empathy and experience to take on a role that would lead to an Oscar nomination.
And that’s why it’s important, now more than ever, for ‘pink hats’ to put respect on the backgrounds and identities of Black women the same way they revere their creativity; to put respect on all Black women regardless of fame or fortune.
We must acknowledge and celebrate Tarana Burke and the thousands of other passionate, Black women who have lived through the situations that inspired #MeToo and #TimesUp. It’s in the face of comments from Julie Delpy in 2016 which completely dismiss the existence of Black women when ‘pink hats’ need to hold her and her ideals accountable. It’s when ‘pink hats’ need to identify Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain’s fight for fair wages as a perfect example of allyship and a step in the right direction.
We can no longer allow feminism and The Women’s March to have a ‘pink hat’ relationship with Hip-Hop nor Black women. Just like this year is the year of the woman, it is also the year of accountability and the sooner those two entities can co-exist the sooner we can live in our truths and the reality of a feminism that’s actually intersectional.
This post is in partnership with WearYourVoice Mag.